How to Carve a Pumpkin

It’s that time of year again, folks! The witching hour is almost upon us, and a well-carved jack-lantern is essential. Here is a step by step guide on how to make yours happen.

carving Halloween natalia molina-harno pumpkins


Pumpkin pandemonium

1. First cut off the top, slanting the knife towards the inside as you cut around so it’s easy to remove it from the pumpkin. Make sure to make it a decent size because if not scooping out the insides will be difficult.

2. Next get a spoon or scoop and take out all the innards that aren’t attached to the walls of the pumpkin. Once that’s done, you’ll still be left with uneven walls lined with sticky scraps; so get a large, hard metal spoon and scrape as much off as you can. You’re also looking to thin the walls of the pumpkin as that will make the carving process easier.


Hollow as can be

3. Grab a thick black pen and draw your motif on the pumpkin; make sure it makes a good clear line as it will make cutting a lot easier. Some possible motifs are the classic jack-o-lantern face, writing or an object like a bat/spider/spiderweb…


Happy halloween

4. Then start cutting out the shape, cutting around the outside of the black lines so you’re just left with a cut-out shape and no marker lines on the pumpkin. Go quite slowly, as you’ll get more accurate shapes. Know that the thinner the line or shape, the more tendency it will have towards breaking, so go thicker if possible (for instance for a tooth in the Jack-o-lantern’s smile).

5. Once you’ve finished, your jack-o-lantern is almost ready to be used. Get your hands on some small plain tea lights or electrical ones if you don’t feel comfortable with candles (although the effect is much more authentic). Place the candle in the pumpkin and, preferably using long matches, reach in and light it.


May it be a light for you in dark places

6. Congratulations you’ve just carved a pumpkin! Feel free to experiment wherever your imagination takes you; for my final pumpkin I wrote Trick or Treat with dots which creates a very cool lighting effect. When you’re ready, turn off those lights and let those jack-o-lanterns glow in all their glory and inspire fear into all your visitors’ hearts.

Happy Halloween.